Leadership from the Book of Proverbs
What is a Leader
A leader can get a group of people to identify themselves as a group; and as a group they accept his leadership. This gives the leader esteem and honor. There is something powerful about this man’s ability to inspire and lead. When he says, follow me, people will follow. McCain exhibited this quality as a POW with his fellow POW’s. He wants to claim the position of leadership, but the position of Senator does not put him in the category of a leader. This is why governors, rather than senators, tend to move naturally into the presidency of the U.S.
The problem of leadership in our society is that people have the position or the title without ever bringing people together as a group to follow his lead. He has the title but people don’t accept his leadership. Given our two party system, every new president must somehow transcend politics to become the leader of the entire nation. President Bush succeeded in getting the country behind him after 9/ll. He got us to put aside differences and accept his leadership. President Clinton failed early on by immediately going for the homosexuals in the armed forces issue. The losers in the election, conservatives, were immediately excluded. President Clinton could have used health care as a means of bringing the different viewpoints together to find a compromise that could have brought people together under his leadership.
Obama’s leadership is twofold. One, he is playing the game to get elected. He is projecting himself as the one who truly understands our problems. He is leading a campaign to accomplish this goal. The second or real element of his leadership comes from his commitment to racial and social equality. The people of the left, the elements of this country that see America as a failed nation, are his true followers. He will have a real problem when he becomes president of being the leader of the nation. Should his real motive be brought out in the open to the larger America as he begins to pursue policies that exacerbate the cultural and political divide then he will become unacceptable as leader to half the country. The negative of this would be that he resorts to intimidation and force. He could avoid this by taking on some of his projects, such as healthcare, with an honest discussion of the issues that included the input from the different points of view and reaching a consensus allowing all of us to accept his leadership.
The above extrapolated from Proverbs 14:28
A Leader’s Character
A leader is a natural target. Take a walk through the Lincoln museum in Springfield, IL and view the ugliness of the political cartoons. Today, just check out the anti-Palin signs and tee-shirts to see the uglier side of life. So how does a leader protect himself from these attacks? The two qualities that will protect his soul and allow him to continue to rise above the ugliness and be the leader are kindness and trustworthiness. Mercy, lack of vindictiveness, is essential for the emotional health of a leader. When a leader becomes infected with bitterness and that bitterness begins to show forth through his actions it is an indication that the attacks have succeeded in damaging his soul, the person he really is on the inside. Kindness, mercy and forgiveness will keep him in good mental health. As much as people have negative things to say about President Bush, I have yet to hear him respond in anyway that betrays an inner bitterness. In 2008, as he gets his rescue bill passed he is able to describe Nancy Pelosi with wonderful adjectives. He will make it. This is very different from “the great right-wing conspiracy” that haunted the Clintons.
The other guard of the soul is trustworthiness. McCain has made a career on standing on his word, even if it meant torture in a POW camp. A leader needs to be able to say what he means and believe what he says. We are not talking about the ability of the media to turn anyone into a flip flopper. We are talking about an inner quality that you, not only project, but is actually real in that you are a trustworthy person in your dealings with others. We are not talking about sound bites here, or “read my lips”, we are talking about something that is generally recognized as true about you. As the leader you are trustworthy. This translates out in a respect that people who work with you have and internally you have no conflicts with the conscience. Being found trustworthy and being trustworthy is evidence of a clean conscience and a healthy soul.
Of these two qualities, kindness and trustworthiness, it is kindness that will establish your authority and build a foundation for those following you at that position. People will always remember the acts of kindness more that the acts of revenge and spite.
Honesty with money is necessary in a leader. The ability to handle money properly will insure his position. Personal finances matter, because it will usually be an indicator of how you will handle the nation’s money. Stewardship, or understanding that it is not your money, is an important concept of proper financial leadership. It is always easier to spend someone else’s money. We don’t expect our leaders to be wheeling and dealing while in office. The first lottery held by the city of Seattle was won by the mayor. His days in elected office were numbered. People feel secure when they see issues handled properly. A sense of justice and fairness must emanate from leadership. People feel insecure when they sense that money is changing hands and distorting fairness and justice. Bribes, earmarks or favors from the lobbyist all work against people’s confidence in leadership. In America, bribes, earmarks and lobbyist favors tend to be aimed at Senators and congressmen, that is because they do not carry the weight of leadership.
A leader’s position is established when his actions are judged as fair and displaying wisdom, or doing the right thing at the right time. The leader should bring honest, moral and wise people into his administration. Each member of the administration is a representative of the leader as well as the people who recognize him as such. When the leader, as well as his administration, is recognized as honest and moral people will be content with the direction of the nation. This all changes when the leader himself acts in a way that is disgusting to your average person. President Clinton, for all of his political skills couldn’t get past the fact that most people consider adultery wrong and an act of personal betrayal. Even his supporters were upset by his action. The entire nation was upset, the politics that followed allowed for business as usual to resume, but it was still a personal failure that affected all of us, no matter what our politics were. Immoral leadership opens the door for the complaints to come rolling in. Whether it is President Clinton’s personal immorality or President Bush’s perceived immorality over the war it opens the door for complaining. A leader should not be immoral or a drunk. A leader has got to keep himself sharp. Acts of immorality and drunkenness will damage the leader’s ability to function in fairness and justice. People who are living in moral, mental or physical poverty are not able to act as a safeguard against immoral leadership. They have not the will to stand against him. The leader must be the voice of the voiceless but when his own immorality becomes his master he reacts to the complaints and tries to suppress them, totally losing site of his purpose as leader.
Proverbs 16:12, Proverbs 28:15-16, Proverbs 29:2, Proverbs 29:4, Proverbs 31:3-9
The Leader and His Advisors
Our next leader will have to give time to and fair judgment to the weaker elements of our society. The status and future of illegal immigrants will have to be fairly dealt with. The nation will know if it is fair or not. The future of social security for our older citizens will have to be dealt with. Once again, people can tell if it is being handled fairly or not. The issues of generational poverty will have to be dealt with in a fair manner. People will know. Addressing the problems of the weaker elements of society establishes the position of the leader. A leader will bring together a staff or a cabinet to help steer the nation. It is up to the leader to keep these people working with him up to the moral standards of the nation. Even as we morally drift, there is still basic understanding of what is right and wrong. Morally unfit ministers have a disturbing influence upon the other ministers working with the leader. You can imagine working in an office where your work mate is cheating on his wife and you have to take the call from her. Unrighteous actions cause friction and problems and it is up to the leader to remove these people from working with him. When the leader passes judgment and removes the immoral minister it allows the work to go forward in a progressive manner.
There is an eerie, uncanny element that accompanies the decision making of a true leader. Anyone working with a real leader will attest to this phenomenon. He didn’t know the facts yet his decision would later on reflect the facts surrounding the situation. This is especially true with the leader and his staff. How did he know? He didn’t, it just seems that way. His staff will recognize this and be hesitant to bring their own petty disagreements before him. Those ministers who are self-seeking will never do well in this atmosphere. There is a need to be open and honest in the discussions that surround the decision making of the leader. A leader gets a special glory in searching out truth in all of the opinions around him. When his ministers see that he does not quickly discount lies but looks for truth in the lie; they will become dishonest and attempt to manipulate the leader. This opens the door to insecurity among the advisors, each wondering if lies are being spoken about them and believed by the leader. If the leader doesn’t establish an arena of honesty and morality his ministers will have to operate in a world of gray ambiguity. The problem being that there is no standard of right and wrong actions.
Proverbs 16:10, Proverbs 20:6, Proverbs 20:8, Proverbs 20:26, Proverbs 25:2, Proverbs 25:4-5, Proverbs 29:12, Proverbs 29:14
Interacting with a Leader
We all desire to be noticed and appreciated. When a leader takes note of you, let it be something he recognized in you and not something you orchestrated by exalting yourself. A good leader recognizes that people working with him want to and need to be recognized by him. Wisdom calls for those working with a leader to moderate their lives. You want to get involved in the real decision making; treat it like a warming fire, get close but not to close. Working with a good leader will require you to tame your own ego a bit. Those that reach a place of working with a leader tend to be those that have excelled in their chosen fields of endeavor. Leaders attract overcomers, people who can get the job done no matter what the obstacles. What qualities will give you the ear of the leader? The answer is a love of what is right and the ability to speak without spite about others. Leaders need to be surrounded by people who can talk with proper respect about others without using their time with the leader to sabotage others. Leaders respect and value people who can speak forth rightly. The cabinet is not the place for the impulsive partisan. It is a time of carefully presenting arguments and advice. A well thought out position, gently presented will persuade the leader. Who persuaded President Bush about the surge with General Patraeus? There is more involved than just doing a good job, it is about looking out for and guarding the interests and reputation of the leader, this is what brings honor and promotion to those working with the leader.
One of the signs of leadership failure is that his councilors begin to second guess him. They begin to think they know better. Their world becomes smaller as they attempt to enlarge themselves in the eyes of their boss by putting down their fellow councilors. This creates an atmosphere of false secrecy and paybacks. In the confusion that results there are some that will give into the natural tendency to despise the leader. This attitude is contagious and can work its way through the staff stopping them from effectively being involved in leadership decisions. The wise ministers learn to flow with the leader and do their best to carry out his wishes; the foolish minister, thinking he knows better, fails to carry out the leader’s wishes. The wise minister will continue working; the foolish minister will find himself on the outside looking in and hopefully will be removed before he can affect the other ministers.
People working with a leader experience the emotions that are linked to the leader. When the leader is happy it calls for healthy emotions for those around him. When the leader voices his pleasure at the job everyone is doing it equals the joy of a timely pay raise.
Proverbs 10:8, Proverbs 16:13, Proverbs 16:15, Proverbs 22:11, Proverbs 22:29, Proverbs 23:1-3, Proverbs 24:21-22, Proverbs 25:3, Proverbs 25:6-7, Proverbs 25:15, Proverbs 27:18, Proverbs 30:10
The Angry, Angrier, Angriest Leader
Not all leaders are Abraham Lincoln. Leaders appreciate being surrounded by people with emotional intelligence, people who are aware of what is going on around them. A leader is angered by someone who not only doesn’t get the job done, but acts in such a way as to bring reproach upon the leader and the people who identify with him. Think of the staff meeting where the leader is angry or pleased with the work being accomplished by those in the meeting. When a leader is upset it can paralyze those working around him. Whoever knowingly upsets the leader violates himself. The picture of this is the tourist kicking the lion so as to get some good film footage only to have the lion rise up and kill him. The leader’s anger can boil over and destroy those around him. All leaders will have their moments of anger. He needs people with wisdom around him to be able to cancel out the more destructive elements of his anger.
Proverbs 14:35, Proverbs 16:14, Proverbs 19:12, Proverbs 20:2
God and the Leader
We must always be reminded that God is ultimately in charge. All leaders, good or bad, are influenced and can be directed by God. This influence can originate from our prayers or the fulfilling of unseen purposes only known to God. Honesty in business comes from God. The standards of right and wrong will always stand no matter what we do down here. We are all seeking to get the leader’s favor in our given situations, but we must always know that justice ultimately comes from God.
Proverbs 16:11, Proverbs 21:1, Proverbs 29:26